A GENTLEMAN HAS RESTED, BUT HIS DREAM ABIDES
To the people of Kenya.
I join you in mourning a truly unique and iconic Kenyan whose immensely rich and highly exemplary life has blessed our nation with countless tangible and intangible legacies whose impact shall endure for many generations to come.
The late President, His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, is a man of many excellent attributes and colossal accomplishments. A prodigious scholar, brilliant technocrat, visionary statesman, successful politician and inspired Pan-African, he left his mark everywhere he worked. In both word and deed, Mwai Kibaki expressed his vision for how we can live in freedom and prosperity by working every day towards dignity and self-sufficiency.
The late President Kibaki was born into a humble family struggling, as did millions of other Kenyans, at the bitter end of colonial domination. By applying himself admirably to his studies in threadbare rural schools, he nevertheless excelled and joined the Holy Ghost College, Mang’u, where his abundant intellectual gifts blossomed. During that time, Kibaki proved industrious in and out of school, assisting his parents in various subsistence tasks, and even working as a bus conductor to raise much-needed resources to finance his education.
Through his discipline, focus and dedication, Mwai Kibaki once again excelled in his studies and was accepted to Makerere where he emerged first of the class of 1955 with first class honours in Economics, (Economics Political Science and History). This earned him a scholarship to study Public Finance at the London School of Economics, where he scored a distinction.
He returned to Makerere to teach, before he was offered a position as the Executive Officer of Kenya’s liberation movement, KANU.
Mwai Kibaki served government as a permanent secretary in the ministry of Finance. Afterwards, he successfully contested a parliamentary seat at Donholm constituency, and became an assistant minister at independence, before shifting gear to represent Othaya for the rest of his political career. In that time, Mwai Kibaki rose to the position of minister, becoming a celebrated minister of Finance, and later Vice president as well as minister in various portfolios.
Mwai Kibaki served his government, party and president loyally, diligently and courageously until 1991, when he resigned to start his party and political career in the opposition. He remained steadfast, courageous, intellectual robust, visionary and patriotic. His consistency, love for his country and her people, refusal to embrace tribal politics and willingness to collaborate with a broad spectrum of like-minded actors was finally rewarded in 2002, when his Rainbow Coalition easily overran KANU, a decades-old behemoth.
Mwai Kibaki served as president for a decade that now seems to be Kenya’s golden years. Finally, he had the opportunity to prove his propositions, and he did not disappoint. An implacable meritocrat, he tapped into Kenya’s rich talent bank and appointed technocrats and other highly qualified professionals to impactful leadership positions in his government. He then empowered them to run their dockets while firmly holding them accountable for their decisions. The result was a government that hummed with purpose, unlocking an optimism in the nation that propelled economic growth from its historic lowest to its highest.
In an inspired decade, Kenya was transformed right before our eyes, and we learned that with legitimate, commitment and the support of the people, all is possible: yote yawezekana. Mwai Kibaki taught Kenyans that the secret of a prosperous future does not lie in abundant natural resources, it lies in them.
I had the honour of serving as Mwai Kibaki’s minister for Agriculture and for Higher Education. In that brief period, Mwai Kibaki enabled and encouraged me to align my ministry’s work with a sound vision that can benefit all Kenyans. He was a gentle mentor, a firm guide and a tireless manager. He did not sweat the small stuff, but was extremely vigilant about what mattered. This was the secret of his consistency and ability to remain committed to a vision throughout his career.
Mwai Kibaki ensured that in his tenure, Kenyans were productive, that they earned better incomes, that government services and infrastructure actually reached and served them, and that public institutions supported his vision and work.
Mwai Kibaki expanded the revenue base, exponentially increased revenue collection and feed Kenya of debt. He initiated highly impactful infrastructure projects whose purposes were consistent with his vision.
Mwai Kibaki ensured that the deadlocks that had denied Kenya a new constitution were untangled, and inaugurated a robust, exhaustive, inclusive and democratic engagement whose final output is a constitution that we will always be proud of.
Under this constitution, we are continuously affirmed that we are an unbwogable people, that tyranny will always be kept at bay and defeated, that shared prosperity is within reach, and that freedom will never depart our shores.
When the time came for Mwai Kibaki to retire, he did so graciously and cheerfully, finally finding time to immerse himself in his family after five decades of national service.
Mwai Kibaki is one of my strongest inspirations in politics, leadership and national service. By coincidence that seems providential, our careers, from the academy into KANU, through Parliament and ministerial and Cabinet exhibit broad parallels from which I draw much personal encouragement.
Mwai Kibaki was the gentleman of Kenya’s politics and government. He was a kind boss to me, and a humorous mentor. Like many Kenyans mourning him, I will miss him.
I extend my condolences to Mwai Kibaki’s family. My personal words of comfort as well my family’s prayers go out to them in this moment of sorrow; that God may comfort Jimi, Judy, David and Tony, their spouses and children with divine solace. May you find the serenity to contemplate and rejoice in the incomparable gift to humanity that Mwai Kibaki was, and draw strength at all times that in many good ways, Mwai Kibaki contributed and will always contribute to the smile on our faces, and the peace in our hearts.
We know that Kenya is a land of possibilities because Mwai Kibaki hustled his way from a rural village to global acclaim, and his legacy was to keep the path open for all who will, to chase their dream.
In memory of Mwai Kibaki, I ask all Kenyans never to let go of that hope, that dream, that vision: yote yawezekana. Stay unbwogable always.
May God keep Mwai Kibaki’s soul in eternal peace.
May God bless Kenya.
A GENTLEMAN HAS RESTED, BUT HIS DREAM ABIDES